Worth The WaitJoey W. Hill
Worth The Wait
A Nature of Desire Series Novel
Joey W. Hill
Ready For More?
About the Author
Also by Joey W. Hill
Is he worth the heartbreak? At nearly forty, Julie isn't so sure she'll ever find a man who is, so she's vowed that all her big 4-0 decisions will have zip to do with relationships. A successful theater manager, she agrees to travel to North Carolina and help a friend put her erotic performance theater on its feet. Julie has always been curious and drawn to the BDSM world, and now she can safely explore that world in the environment she knows best.
Desmond Hayes is the roofing contractor repairing their rundown theater building, but he's also a rigger, well-known in the BDSM world for his rope artistry. He's not just a top, though; he's a Dom whose unexpected quirks mesh too well with Julie's eccentric personality and awaken her submissive side.
From the time he was born, Des has been fighting the odds against him. Because of that, he's kept his relationships inside the BDSM scene, with clear boundaries. While Julie has almost given up on finding a person worth loving through better or worse--or pleasure and pain--Des never expected to receive that gift.
He's not letting that treasure get away--no matter how much rope he has to use to bind her to him.
Worth The Wait
Copyright (c) 2016 Joey W. Hill
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Cover design by W. Scott Hill
SWP Digital & Print Edition publication May 2016
This book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written permission from the publisher, Story Witch Press, 6823 Neuhoff Lane, Charlotte NC 28269.
Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be scanned, uploaded or distributed via the Internet or any other means, electronic or print, without the publisher's permission. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000. (http://www.fbi.gov/ipr/). Please purchase only authorized electronic or print editions and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted material. Your support of the author's rights is appreciated.
This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author's imagination and used fictitiously.
The publisher and author(s) acknowledge the trademark status and trademark ownership of all trademarks, service marks and word marks mentioned in this book.
The following material contains graphic sexual content meant for mature readers. Reader discretion is advised.
Digital ISBN: 978-1-942122-48-7
Print ISBN: 978-1-942122-47-0
This book presented a couple of research challenges for me. As always, I am indebted to readers, friends and many online and book sources for helping me round out Julie and Des's story:
To Andy for his community theater management insights. Also, Bo Metzler's wonderful book What We Do turned out to be a godsend for a clueless author writing about theater.
To Jeanie, for inadvertently striking the spark that spawned Des's character.
To the many wonderful BDSM groups that provide access to hands-on information that inspires and enriches scenes in my books. Those who teach workshops for these groups often have very specific scene names, so I want to respect their privacy by not citing them here. However, my thanks to the presenters who demonstrated creative options for liquid nitrogen, fire and wax play.
I also offer a tremendous thanks to the presenter of a rope bondage class I saw in 2015. He brought such personal enthusiasm and charisma to the workshop, Julie's hero evolved from a spark into a three-dimensional character during it. This presenter showed me the type of rope artist Des would be.
I also want to thank my invaluable volunteer editing team of Lauren, Judy, and Terry for their beta reads of the final galley. Thank you also to Angela and Sheri for their professional critiques of the book. You all made the book shine! Any mistakes remaining are all mine.
Then there's my wonderful husband, whose graphic and technical expertise has made it possible for me to include self-published books as part of my offerings to readers. He's navigated all the aggravations of that path so I can continue to focus on the writing. Plus, we get the chance to work and be with one another every day, which I love! Twenty-seven years, and it only keeps getting better, darling.
One final BIG thanks. Thank you to all my readers, new and existing, for taking the journey with my characters, and for giving me the support and encouragement to continue creating new ones. I cannot thank you enough for that.
Author's Note: In the Afterword at the end of this book are further acknowledgements, but since they also provide significant spoilers as to where the story is going to go, I've put them there so you can enjoy the unfolding of the story as it is intended.
She was naked, and curled up on her stomach like a trusting child. Her cheek was pressed to the floor, her knees folded beneath her, her arms threaded under her body between them. A double strand of rope ran over her hips, bisecting the tattoo of a flower at her lower back, just above the pale pink thong she wore. That rope connected to the wraps around her ankles, as well as to her bound wrists, folded prayer-like between her feet.
A man wearing jeans and nothing else rested on his bare heels next to her. His fingertips trailed along her spine, questing, seeking response. Her lips parted, her eyes lifting to his shadowed face. His dark, close cropped beard had threads of silver. She had blue eyes. They were pretty any day of the week, but when she looked at him, the emotions that filled them were what every woman held deep in her heart. Those feelings couldn't be summoned at will, consciously given. They had to be earned, with trust and love.
The blue became the bluest possible blue, the shine in them like the light of a temple.
"Master," she whispered. When he touched her mouth, he had a belt folded over in his hand. Her lips pressed against his knuckles, the strap. She had no fear. Only desire, and a craving to feel his touch, the strike of that need...
Julie paused the video on her phone. Madison had sent it to her months ago, to give her an idea of what she wanted to accomplish with Wonder, her erotic performance theater. How many times had she watched it since then? The Dom in the video was never clearly in the camera, but he was as strong a presence as if he were center screen. Whenever his submissive looked at him, Julie felt what she felt. That aching yearning, the edge of all she wanted, just beyond her bound fingertips.
Only she wasn't the girl in the video. She merely wished she was.
"I'm almost forty, and no one has ever fallen in love with me." Her voice echoed against the concrete walls.
Julie put her fee
t in the hotel's indoor pool. The Hampton Inn outside Wytheville, Virginia was a quiet place on a weeknight, so she had the space to herself. A glass wall allowed her to see the faint outline of the rolling hills behind the hotel. In daylight, she'd probably see the details: green pastures, farmland and forest. Maybe a hint of the distant mountains of West Virginia, through which she'd passed on the winding turnpike to get this far from New York City in one day.
What incredible stillness. Where she lived in New York there was always noise. Cabbies honking at all hours, and an undercurrent of movement, people, and energy. Here there was the distant trundling of the elevator, the occasional murmur of voices, and this. Tiny ripples of water echoed against their wavy reflection on the gray satin painted concrete wall.
Her whispered words joined the echo. She'd never said them aloud, and she'd definitely never say them to anyone else. Emotional masturbation was best done in private. Though it hadn't been reciprocated, she had considered herself in love, several times. But tonight she was wondering if that was really true.
Julie folded her ankle socks into snowballs, as she liked to call them, and put them in her canvas sneakers. She aligned them with toes out, because shoes spent most of their lives having to point toward one another. At least when hers were off, they could see what else was out in the world. Though there were worse things than always having to gaze at your other half, if you were lucky enough to find him. Shoes came predestined as couples.
Yeah, she was in one of those kinds of moods. Dramatic melancholy, a permanent side effect of working in theater.
"He has to make my knees weak when he kisses me. Not just when we first start dating, but after a hundred years together. And he has to be able to make me laugh, even when my heart is breaking. Why is finding a man who can meet those two simple requirements so freaking hard?"
She moved her feet back and forth slowly. The water was cool but not cold. She liked that. Extremes no longer interested her. The cold icy water of a lake, the powerful heat of summer, used to seem so exciting. Backdrops against which she could push herself to the limit of experience, daring the cup of life to overflow like a waterfall. The roaring, Niagara Falls kind.
She rotated her feet in opposing circles, watching the ripples drift out, collide. When she'd embraced those extremes, she'd wanted a passionate love story. She'd sought out the cruel, beautiful men who had passion for certain, but no love to give. They were more than willing to take all she had to offer, though. An endless, painful well.
Now she wanted a passion that started as fire and melted into warmth. A steady heat, holding fast for a lifetime against the coldness of the world. Without that hearth, small disappointments could magnify and link, forming a chain that could strangle the heart.
She remembered being a child and summoning the courage to sled down the hill behind her house. Reaching the bottom, heart pumping and her face wreathed in smiles, she turned to see if her mother was still at the window watching. She wasn't.
Her phone buzzed across the concrete like an irritated mosquito, bringing her back to the present. He'd already left three texts. If he was resorting to a call, he was getting pissed and insistent. She sighed and reached for the phone.
"Are you calling to wish me a happy birthday?" she asked.
"We were coming over to take you out for a magnificent night on the town. Dinner at a restaurant you can't afford, dancing at a club you can't get into if you're not with someone important--like me. We were going to finish it off with a midnight boat ride around Lady Liberty so you could do your usual ritual of tossing a coin and making your wish for the coming year."
"It sounds wonderful." She was so maudlin, the thought that she'd hurt her best friends' feelings choked her up. "You guys are wonderful. I love you both. You know that, right?"
"Thomas, she's telling me she loves us and she's about to cry. Find out where she is so I can go get her."
"Where are you?" Thomas took the phone, all calm and concerned. His soothing Southern tone was as dear as Marcus's sharp New Yorker impatience. Different versions of the same love and care.
"I left. I need you guys to water my plants and watch after my place while I'm gone. I don't know for how long. I'm on my way to North Carolina. I'm going to take Madison up on her offer to be managing director for the first couple shows at her erotic performance theater. It's my birthday present to me."
She'd turned over the running of her current community theater to her very capable stage manager, Belinda. After getting over the initial shock of hearing about her promotion via ten p.m. phone call, Belinda had been unable to contain her excitement. The Juilliard graduate had been ready for some time to move into the managing director role. Sheila, her assistant stage manager, could move into Belinda's shoes capably. Julie estimated six months on her return, but with Belinda, she knew she didn't have to worry about it. The dusty hole-in-the-wall Julie had turned into a community theater in her little corner of the big city had evolved into a recommended attraction for the niche fans of amateur and avant-garde performance. Belinda would tend to it well.
In a matter of hours, she'd turned her life upside down. Julie was sure this sounded like madness to Thomas and Marcus, but she wasn't stopping the train. She had to do something different, or nothing would change. Somehow, something had to change. She was going to explode out of her skin otherwise.
A significant pause conveyed a lot. Or rather, they'd noticed her state of mind these past few weeks, confirmed by Thomas's next words. "We know you've been restless. If this is what you want, what you need, we're behind you all the way. Charlotte's only a couple hours from our North Carolina house. My Mom would welcome you at her place. Any time you need feeding and mothering, she'd love to have you come stay overnight. And it goes without saying Daralyn and Les would be thrilled to see you."
Daralyn was a family friend and Celeste was Thomas's sister. Julie always had primo girl talk time with them whenever she visited. Thomas had once said they considered her like their big sister.
Tears stabbed at her again. Thomas's family had made her feel welcome from her first meeting with them. They'd offered her a sense of belonging, one of life's true treasures. She wanted it to be enough, and sort of despised herself for wanting, needing more. For longing for her very own just-for-her person. Other women went through life without this craving. Maybe she'd read too many romance novels as a teenager.
Yep, that's what she'd do. She'd blame it on the romance industry. Maybe she'd gather together a million sad, lonely women still waiting for Prince Charming, thanks to Harlequin and Pretty Woman, and bring a class-action lawsuit. Maybe Richard Gere would appear at the trial and they could have dinner together...
"When you don't talk, the gears in your mind are going full throttle. Grunt so I'll know you're there."
She summoned an unladylike, pig grunt and heard Thomas chuckle, a deep, sexy sound that gave her vitals a little spin. Damn him and Marcus for being so decidedly gay, and rabidly monogamous on top of that. Another of life's little 'fuck you, Julie' messages, without the literal and very pleasant fuck you.
"We'll be back in North Carolina after we get this next gallery tour out of the way," Thomas continued. "We'll come see you then."
Please, not too soon. She took a breath. "I love you guys for caring about me, but don't worry, okay? And don't take this wrong, but unless you and Marcus convert to bisexualism and decide I'm the answer to your threesome dreams, don't call me for a few weeks. I depend on you two too much, and I'm too raw right now. I don't know if it's having another birthday and I'm in the grip of some tediously typical analyze-my-whole-life crisis, but I need some alone time in my head. Without someone who knows me better than I know myself interrupting the flow. I need to recreate myself. You know how it is when you're painting."
"Creative space. I get it." The gentle note in his voice said he did. She needed to get off the phone. It was time for a really ugly, cathartic cry. "But promise to
text us every couple of days so we know you're okay. Proof of life. Send us Madison's phone number so we have a backup emergency number."
"Okay, Dad." But she would, because they watched after her, as she watched after them. It's what the people who cared about you did. "Love you guys."
She was choking up, so she disconnected, hoping he would understand.
She wished that her entirely interesting and fulfilling career, and the many wonderful friends she had, could be enough for her. Most of the time she convinced herself it was.
This was not one of those times.
Squeezing her eyes shut, she let the silence wrap around and hold her as she forced optimism into her bleak mind. Change was good. If she couldn't have what she'd always dreamed of having, maybe running an erotic performance theater in North Carolina would help her. She could immerse herself in sex. Not sex for herself, but the artistic expression of it.
Sure. Seeing beautiful, idealized depictions of erotic intimacy was a great plan to end her clawing, aching need to be in love.
She was going to add Disney to that lawsuit. She'd been duped into thinking of romantic love as Cinderella with a happy circle of blue birds chirping around her. It was more like a circle of vultures, ready to tear out her heart with their sharp claws.
"Ugh." She groaned, bending over at the waist to press her face into her knees and link her hands over the back of her head.
Dramatic melancholy. Its vivid imagery never let her down. She was going to snag a fresh baked chocolate chip cookie from the front desk and go to bed. The smell had been assaulting her since she'd arrived. Maybe she'd have two, and imagine having someone in the room with whom she could share them, touch his mouth if some of the melted chocolate smeared it. She'd collect it on her finger and try to taste it, but he'd grip her wrist and draw her finger to his mouth, sucking on the digit and then clasping her around the waist to bring her close. He'd turn that tease into a mouth-to-mouth transfer of fresh baked cookie and chocolate scent, heat and pleasure.
Body-wise, her fantasy lover was always a compilation of the best parts of Thomas, Marcus and assorted Hollywood stars. Yet his face remained shadowed, because the eyes, the cliched windows of the soul, had to be real, not fantasy. If they couldn't be, the best way not to disrupt her fantasy was to keep them hidden.